The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will announce today (Thursday) its decision on notifying new MPAs on five seats of the Punjab Assembly reserved for women and minorities after they became vacant following the de-seating of 25 dissident PTI lawmakers.
A five-member bench will announce the ruling, which was reserved earlier today, in line with the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) directives.
Last month, 25 PTI dissident lawmakers, which included five elected on seats reserved for women and minorities, were de-seated for voting for PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz in the Punjab chief minister’s election. They were officially de-notified by the ECP on May 23.
The PTI filed a petition in the LHC on May 28 requesting it to direct the ECP to notify the five new MPAs and “summon [them] personally”. Subsequently, the high court had given the ECP a deadline for June 2 to decide on the matter.
During a hearing at the ECP today, PTI’s lawyer Faisal Chaudhry argued that the incumbent government in Punjab does not have the majority and, therefore, does not deserve to rule.
He said the ECP should “immediately” issue notifications for new MPAs on the reserved seats and contended that as per the Constitution, the new MPAs would be from the same party the previous ones were de-seated from.
Meanwhile, PML-N’s counsel Khalid Ishaq contended that the case was that of a “first impression” and the principle of proportional representation could not be ignored.
He requested the Election Commission to notify new MPAs in accordance with the current proportion in the Punjab Assembly.
For his part, Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf argued that the principle of proportional representation could not be applied until the Assembly was “complete”.
“Twenty of PTI’s seats have been reduced, after which they cannot have the same proportion. Nobody can tell which party will be successful in by-elections.”
Ausaf said it would be “more appropriate” if the ECP waited until the by-elections.
Subsequently, the Election Commission reserved its decision.